q & a

What other things keep you busy?

  • engaging my three children, my husband, and our three furry critters
  • maintaining the house that owns us
  • lots and lots of reading
  • volunteering
  • walking, hiking, biking, gardening, landscaping, park-going, and other playing
  • keeping up with current local, state, national, global, and interplanetary and interstellar events as best I can
  • practicing yoga (and deep breathing)
  • exploring, observing, listening, learning, wondering, questioning, and sharing

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

Staying focused. (See above.)

What are you working on now?

Aside from my contract work, which tends to comprise two to three concurrent projects, I am revising my YA fantasy novel, entitled Sycamore and Barrel. It’s the first in a trilogy (yes, I know, another trilogy) entitled Shadows Prey. The second and third books are The Stone Sea and Crick Master. I am also working on several manuscripts for children’s picture books, including Grimly Green Grows Best, Hide and—Shhh!, Ole Doc Frankenstein, The Night Mobile, Lilian Millen: Time Invention, The Gifts, Yabii Dream Walks, Lucky Mud, The Terrible Troll, and The Piecework Button. I have pages of other ideas that I am anxious to work on, both for adult and YA novels, early readers, and picture books. Poetic musings are ongoing, too. 

What’s the novel about?

Want my pitch, do you? You’ll have to contact me for it. I will tell you that it’s young adult, it’s fantasy, and it has two protagonists: Simeon, who goes by Simon, and Miria, known as Barrelscamp. They have some help.

It’s fantasy, so there’s magic, right?

Of a sort. You’ll have to decide what you consider magic.

What makes Simon and Miria worth a novel?

Ah, that’s back in pitch territory, but I’ll tell you that Simon comes from our world and Miria comes from another. They both end up dealing with the same problem, and since they’re the protagonists, you can bet that there’s something special that makes them both suited to address that problem.

What’s taking you so long with the novel revision?

Good question! I finished the first draft of the novel and realized that I wanted to split the story into three. (Really, the story called for it.) So, I divided and re-outlined, then revised the first part to stand alone as its own novel, and lo! I added too much in the process. Right now, I am in process of cutting and condensing and making the story as a whole more cohesive. Then, I get to do the same thing to the second and third books. Alas, I have to do all this amid the rest of life. However, I have lots of fodder for “dialogue and other things that you never knew happened” should the novel be published and I get to make a website for the books.

Do I illustrate?

A resounding NO. I sketch ideas now and again, but my craft is word-smithing. I would like to trust my words to another illustrator.

What’s your favorite educational stuff to work on?

Oh boy. I like it all (except maybe strict correlations and management-type stuff). Mostly, I like to write content. I love working with primary sources. I thrive on telling stories, doing cross-curricular work, and crafting integrative and analytical activities and assessment. My favorite subject areas are world and U.S. history, geography, and civics. I also enjoy economics, social sciences, and Earth and physical sciences. I tend to write most naturally for higher grade levels (10-12), but I have a great deal of experience and like working on texts for grades 3-9. I have a soft spot for cultural material that explores world religions and mythologies, folklore, and the like. In the past few years, I have devoted a great deal of time to authoring online textbooks and curricular tools. I enjoy the flexibility and media options that online publishing offers, but I would love to get my hands on some basal print texts again, too.

What was your favorite subject in school?

History, of course. (World history, to be more precise, though whatever social studies course I had was the favorite of the year.)

What’s the first song you ever remember hearing?

On the Road Again, by Willie Nelson, while riding on the sticky hot leather brown breaking pealing seats of our Mazda station wagon along I-40 in Texas

What do you like to read?

Ooooh, you’ll have to visit me on Goodreads. My favorite fun genre is adult and YA fantasy and sci-fi. However, I also love children’s literature, including picture books, early readers, and middle grade fiction. In nonfiction, I steer toward material in the social sciences, but I also enjoy accessible texts in the physical sciences along with theoretical and philosophical works.

Okay, well, what are some authors you like?

Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Cornelia Funke, Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins, Dr. Seuss, George Orwell, Howard Zinn, Arnold Lobel, Kurt Vonnegut, Lois Lowry, Ursula K. LeGuin, Mac Barnett, Harper Lee, Sherman Alexie, John J. Muth, Annie Proulx, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Nikki Giovanni, John Steinbeck, Neal Shusterman, Charles Dickens, Eric Carle, Patrick McDonnell, Langston Hughes, Michael Chabon, Mark Twain, Maurice Sendak, Laurie Krebs, William Blake, Frank X. Walker, Naoko Stoop, Robert Frost, Sylvia Long, Todd Parr, Peter H. Reynolds, Madeleine L’Engle, Malcolm Gladwell, and so many more.

What else do you like to do?

What? The list above isn’t enough? Seriously. (Okay, so I also enjoy photography, quilting, knitting, general crafting, sketching and doodling, inventing board games, rearranging furniture, and making mischief. If I sit here and think long enough, I’ll come up with more things.)

What’s something (other than publishing your novel and your picture books and making some sort of positive impact on society) that you want to do?

I keep meaning to hit the climbing gym. I’d love to build a cob playhouse or a treehouse. Professionally (or in volunteer capacity), I would like to incorporate working with people again. I miss teaching and tutoring. Mostly, I’d like to have enough time to volunteer in addition to taking care of my family and doing professional and creative work.

What’s something that annoys you?

Willful ignorance. Dismissive attitudes. Lack of empathy.

Where do you want to go?

Everywhere? I suppose I’d start with the Redwoods. For now.

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